After months of waiting, gamers got the chance to dive into the Doom multiplayer Beta during the first weekend of April. Early reviews were fairly mixed and it seemed that some folks were a little disappointed by what was on show. A good chunk of the Darkworld team managed to get involved with the Beta and we had some fun playing and streaming for you guys as we showcased what was on offer. So let’s break it down and tell you about it.
Doom is due for release on 13th May and the purpose of the Beta was solely to focus on the multiplayer aspect. As with most betas, the content is limited to a couple of game modes (Team Deathmatch and the hold the area ‘Warpath’) and gives you a rough idea of what you can expect on release but the developers want you to play so usually a lot of the customization and loadout options are locked. Doom, however, allowed you to explore this a little as it let you browse the taunts, weapon and armor customization and as you level up allowed you to opt for different weapons and grenades. Obviously the list a little restricted as they don’t want to give everything away just yet but it did remind me a little of what Call of Duty allows you to do to a point. I didn’t really spend a lot of time in these menus unless I wanted to change my custom loadout. It may be that I just haven’t paid enough attention in previous betas to realise that you can do this but I actually thought it was great to chop and change my weapons to make sure I was giving everything a go.
Now, I’ll be honest, I did not find the gameplay easy. I would have expected some brief loading screen showing the button layout because it took me ages to figure it out because I was too stubborn to look it up and a lot of the time I had no idea what was going on. An example of this is the Demon Rune power up in which a Demon possession spawn point appears and players race to get there first so that they will turn into a demon that will inevitably mess people up in a firey vengeance. The Revenant was the only demon available during the beta and if you managed to pick it up, it was quite fun running around blowing everyone up (and it also helps your K/D when you’re having a particularly awful round). It might have been nicer to have one or two to choose from but wasn’t a bad thing when you’re trying to learn the ropes. My issue with it is that I had no idea that there didn’t seem to be any guidance to tell you that if you get to the spawn point that you will be possessed. I just thought that if you got to it you released a demon, not that you became it so I was very confused when I ran over it and suddenly started to change. Once you’ve done it once though, you know what to do. This could also be said for the small perks that help you depending on what you pick. For example I found the perk for showing enemy health really helpful (and you’ll see why in a minute) but these seemed to kick in at random intervals rather than me pressing a button.
Ammo, health and shield top-ups are strewn around the map for you to pick up if you are low on anything, although they have a cool down time they usually respawn after a short while so you aren’t wasting time searching for it. If you kill your enemy they normally drop some health to replace what the opposing team will have almost certainly knocked off. It also isn’t a chore looking for these items as they are pretty much everywhere which is lucky! I also understand that Doom is meant to be a dark game so I deliberately left the brightness up slightly so I could comment on the graphics but it was still ridiculously dark… even sitting right in front of the screen didn’t improve it any. I wouldn’t say it’s a pretty game or that it offers anything spectacular. It sets the scene and presents a hellfire and brimstone arena or two for you to run around in. However, that being said, the lack of ability to change this setting was quite frustrating and I ended up opting to up the brightness on my TV which I didn’t feel I should really have to do. In other words, Bethesda, please give us the option to change this!!!
I only opted to play Team Deathmatch during my foray into Doom just because not being able to see very much made it difficult to see the appeal in being a sitting duck holding an area when there is no mini-map or guidance of enemies approaching. So I ran around in the dark trying to find people. Now, when I did spot an enemy, I was excited because it seemed easy to get lost when you have no sense of direction and you don’t know the layout of the arena. So I would fire at them in the vain hope that my weapon would cause enough damage to take them out… a lot of the time I didn’t win the fire fight even after unloading 4 or 5 rockets into someones face. The weapons just did not feel powerful enough to do the damage and it didn’t seem to matter what level you were, the enemy was or what weapon you were using. That being said, I did win a few fire fights but I probably just got lucky and the damage numbers that spewed forth from the enemies body with every hit didn’t seem to correlate with, well, anything really. I don’t remember seeing hit points anywhere to suggest how close to killing someone you were, so when you see the nice big yellow ’55’ pop out 3 or 4 times before the player eventually snuffs it, it leaves you just a little bemused. Hence why the enemy health bar perk was handy when it popped up so you had some guidance of how much non-damage your weapon was doing.
All in all, I feel a little unsure about the multiplayer aspect of Doom. Sure it will be fun with friends on the odd occasion but I doubt I would be putting as many hours as I have done into Destiny’s Crucible or Call of Duty. Graphically, I can’t say much because I couldn’t see a whole lot but from what I could make out, it looked ok. I just feel a little underwhelmed at this stage and hope that the final product will restore my faith that retro games can be brought into the 21st Century and be great without sullying our happy memories of what came before. But what did you guys think? Did you play the Beta? Did you enjoy it? Let us know!
Below are links to the streams from Lefranzine and the Darkworld_Gaming Twitch pages to see some of the gameplay!